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Interpreting Dreams and Dream Symbols

It was Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and contemporary of Edgar Cayce's, who found convincing evidence for a deep level to the unconscious mind. This profound depth, Jung felt, came from a genuine spiritual reality that hadn't been acknowledged by Freud. Jung called this level the "collective unconscious." Here all minds could communicate through the use of universal symbols—images which seem to have a common meaning among people all over the world. For example, a symbol such as a lion or a great cat has a universal or archetypal meaning of power and vitality. Birds frequently symbolize various kinds of love or concern; water is often suggestive of the Spirit itself. An old woman or an old man or a grandfatherly figure can symbolize our own "Higher Self' or our own internal wisdom. Myths or fairy tales often have similarities among cultures, and these similarities are shown through their universal symbols and themes. Sometimes our own dreams may contain these kinds of symbols.

Of course, not all the symbols and images in our dreams represent the universal or archetypal. Many, if not most, are best interpreted by discovering the personal associations one has with that person or object. The dream symbol of a rifle, for example, would likely mean one thing to a gunsmith and something quite different to a victim of war.

There is really no such thing as a 'bad" dream, because all dreams have the potential of helping the dreamer. Dreams of disastrous events may simply be advice to us to change our diets or our attitudes, or they may be emotional releases from various situations in our lives. They can become invaluable tools for instruction and guidance if we would only begin to work with them.

For example, one person who dreamed of a headless man in uniform was told in his Cayce reading that instead of losing his head over his duties by following the letter of the law and getting too caught up in his job, there was a greater lesson to be learned by following the Spirit. A person who dreamed of a wild man running through the streets, shouting, and causing a great deal of trouble was told that the dream was advice for him to control his temper. One woman dreamed that a friend of hers was speaking to her. She noticed that the woman had beautiful false teeth of different shapes but every other tooth had the appearance of pure gold. She was told that the gold teeth represented the spiritual truths of which she herself was often speaking, but they were false because she hadn't applied in her own life what she had been preaching. Another woman dreamed that her mother, who had died, was alive and happy. Cayce assured her that she was not trying to fool herself, that her mother was indeed alive and happy:

"... for there is no death, only the transition from the physical to the spiritual plane."

-- Edgar Cayce reading 136-33

In trying to arrive at a dream’s meaning, one possibility to consider is that the dream is largely literal. For example, seeing ourselves eat a salad in a dream may indicate the need for change in our diets to incorporate more salads. We may dream of someone we have not seen or heard from in a very long while, and then meet that person a short time later. In other cases, the action may be more symbolic of what is happening in waking life.

Dreaming about different rooms which we haven't yet explored could be pointing to the unopened doors of our own personality. A car often symbolizes our physical body and the need to make a change or correct a physical condition.

On the other hand, dreams of birth and death are often more symbolic, as they point to new beginnings and perhaps the end of doing something the old way.

In other words a dream "death" is often the death of a part of our personality. For example, a woman who dreams of attending the funeral of her minister's wife may be allowing the spiritual aspects of her own life to be overlooked or "laid to rest." Dreams of being pregnant or taking care of a small child who doesn't exist in the waking state isn't necessarily a prediction. The dream could merely be pointing out a new condition which will be coming our way or a new idea to which we will soon give birth.

When dreams give guidance or seem to pass judgments, it is usually in response to values and ideals we have previously set for ourselves. Most dreams can be seen as a kind of comparison (Cayce used the word "correlation"). While we sleep, a comparison is made between recent actions and the inner values we hold. For example, one woman was advised for health reasons to avoid eating chocolate, and yet she continued to eat it anyway. She had a dream in which she was crossing the border into Mexico illegally for the purpose of buying chocolate. Obviously, she would be the best one to determine that her dream was simply pointing out she was doing something she had been told not to do; at one level, she knew it was "illegal."